Kenny Dalglish impressed with Liverpool players' attitude

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has no intention of allowing his squad to become complacent or lose their competitive edge.

With injuries leaving the Reds short of key players like Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly and Fabio Aurelio, the Scot is operating with a first XI at less than full strength.

That has meant he has had to bring in reserve team defenders John Flanagan and Jack Robinson to fill holes at the back, while using bit-part players such as Maxi Rodriguez and Joe Cole to cover absences further forward.

Rodriguez replaced the injured Andy Carroll for his first start in nearly six weeks and scored a hat-trick against Birmingham on Saturday, while Cole also found the target having come off the bench late on.

The latter, in particular, has struggled in his first season since joining on a free transfer from Chelsea and there is already speculation the 29-year-old's Anfield career could be a short one with a number of clubs being linked with a summer move.

But Dalglish has been happy with the way those who have less first-team action than they would have hoped for have responded when there has been an opportunity.

"You don't get anywhere if you don't work hard but you also don't get anywhere if you think you have arrived," said the Reds boss.

"Joe's dedication and application on the training pitch has been superb. This week Joe had a day off but he still came in to train.

"At the moment the lads are not doing too badly so it is difficult to give everybody a game, but if he'd been a defender he might have had a chance with the injuries we have had.

"But I think you insult the boy if you ask if he has the necessary desire.

"He came on and scored a goal (on Saturday) and we couldn't have asked for any more from him in training.

"Recently when we have had a few injuries the lads who have come in have been ready and willing to take up the challenge and try to make their mark on the season.

"The more we get who are capable of doing that the better it is for us.

"The better you train the better chance you have of being successful in the match and I think the players understand that.

"We don't have a problem with anyone's attitude or application here."

Dalglish admitted speculation about players was inevitable but he refused to be drawn on the huge number of rumours which circulate on a daily basis.

There will, however, be some movement in the summer regarding the futures of several players out on loan, plus those of the likes of out-of-favour Milan Jovanovic and Christian Poulsen - aged 30 and 31 respectively.

"We won't speculate on what we are going to do in the summer," added Dalglish.

"There will be a bit of movement in and a bit of movement out. That's a fact of life and everybody knows that.

"But it's not worth commenting on all the names appearing in newspapers - some of the people I don't even know."

The manager also refuses to discuss the state of negotiations over his contract.

Initially appointed on a temporary basis to take over from Roy Hodgson in January, talks over a permanent deal started some weeks ago after the arrival of Dalglish and fellow Scot Steve Clarke signalled a marked turnaround in performances.

It seems now only a matter of when, and not if, confirmation of a deal is forthcoming, but knowing Dalglish's oft-repeated mantra of "one game at a time" it could be the end of the season before he is reappointed full-time boss.

"It's not an issue," said Dalglish, who has not yet ruled out the prospect of £35million club record signing Carroll recovering from a knee injury to face former side Newcastle on Sunday.

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